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How to tell who owns the rights to artwork?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by showcase 66, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. showcase 66

    showcase 66 Very Active Member

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    I have a client that has come to me to start doing all or their decals, signs, shirts, and so on. I know who has done everything to this point so I asked who owns the logo. I honestly believe the client does as they have spent a lot of money towards their branding and what not.

    They have High Res jpg, png, tiff, and even a word file. I laughed when he said the last one. They had a eps of it but part of their computer messed up and they dont have it anymore. Told them to call the guy who was doing it and tell him you need to get it again. They may have to pay for the file but if they own it, they can get it.

    I just got a call from the original guy doing their work and he was yelling and screaming at me about stealing his work and he will sue me if I do even one decal for them. He says that the company never purchased the logo from him and he owns the rights to it.

    According to the client, he has it and has the invoice stating he purchased the logo. The clients also have it registered with the state as their trademark.

    I have never really had this come up. Not like this anyway.

    I am hoping this gets resolved quickly. These guys spend roughly 4-6k a month on things for their trucks, shirts and other stuff they sell and I would like to be apart of receiving that money.

    Right now I am waiting to hear back from the client for the proof that he owns the rights. Will probably have their lawyer get in touch with me.

    So has anyone gone through something like this before?
    What kind of proof do you require, when someone says they own the rights to the artwork.
     
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  2. Tigertron

    Tigertron Member

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    If its registered with the PTO he owns it no question. The vector file is a different story. You may have to create that. But for the money you are talking that's small potatoes.
     
  3. showcase 66

    showcase 66 Very Active Member

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    Agreed about re-creating it. Wouldnt take that much time either, I just dont want any court crap to deal with.
     
  4. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

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    just make sure the invoice for the logo isn't for rights to use it for a purpose such as the stuff the other guy made. you can sell the rights to use a design for a certain purpose and not own it for everything. most people who are not in the biz might not know they don't own it so maybe take a look at the bill to make sure.
     
  5. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    Just have the client sign off that they own the design, you can't be expected to research every logo that comes into your shop. Obviously companies like Nike, Coca-Cola etc are different, but how are you supposed to know if Bob's Plumbing owns the rights to his logo if he supplies it to you?
     
  6. 2B

    2B Moderator

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    This, don't worry yourself over it. Have the customer sign off stating they own the logo/design and give you rights to use it however they want it used. Then if anything does come of it, you are in the clear as the customer signed off on it. Same thing applies to when a customer claims tax exempt, if they are willing to sign the form stating as such so be it, it is not up to you to contact XXX state and verify the info.
     
  7. BIG EASY DOES IT

    BIG EASY DOES IT Very Active Member

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    Yea except if a company tells you it's tax exepmt to do the paperwork you need their tax id number. And you have to hold it on file.
     
  8. Deaton Design

    Deaton Design Very Active Member

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    Be sure and ask a lawyer about all this. I sometimes do work for people, and most of the time give them full ownership, but I still own several logos for companies here locally that never paid me for the original logo. Ive never furnished them files, and wont until they buy the design. Make sure the guy shows you the original invoice for the purchase of the design. If he has that, you are both in the clear, and you can tell the other shop if he calls. If he doesnt have any proof, I wouldnt do it if he signs off or not. You might consult a lawyer in that case to make sure you are in the clear.
     
  9. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Okay, so.......... if someone made it this hard to figure out and embedded all this in the fine print.... wouldn't that amount to be trying to fool [or LIE] to the customer for personal gain ??

    When we do artwork or logos for anyone.... the full explanation is verbally discussed beforehand, it's in all of the quotes, invoices and just about any other dialog if they don't seem to want to buy it.


    My question would be.... if the so-called creator of said logo or artwork does not give the customer ample notification, why should they retain the rights if the customer wasn't fully made aware ?? I know some customers will balk when they think they have to buy the artwork and if they don't, it gets noted and a release is signed, so this sort of thing can't happen, but to just pass this off and try to make a scene at a later date, sounds stoopid to me.

    If a sign guy/gal or designer doesn't have a signed and dated statement of their customer rejecting the offer of buying their own artwork which wasn't included in the price for some reason, then I don't think the creator has any right to it either.

    Court's adjourned. :corndog:
     
  10. Fatboy

    Fatboy Very Active Member



    Thank you Judge Judy!
     
  11. WCSign

    WCSign Member

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    I agree with Gino and I also agree that if they sign a paper for you stating they own the artwork, then you are in the clear.

    My question is this: As a customer, I just started a landscape business. I go to ABC signs and tell him I need my truck letters, business cards, shirts and yard signs. I have no logo, so the sign place makes me a simple lettering with a leaf.

    he charges me for each item I listed and even includes a 4 hour artwork charge. Invoice totals about $1300... But there is NO specific mention of BUYING the logo, specific "logo artwork" charge, nothing


    At this point I think any reasonable consumer would be under the impression that the logo is thiers, they paid for it (artwork), got work done etc.

    That probably falls under Ginos comment..

    Thoughts?
     
  12. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    That may be a good attitude to take to prevent such nonsense as above..

    But in the real world..
    That is not the test... That is a negative technique. The creator does not lose his rights to his art. The sign bizz seems to be the ONLY art based activity that constantly tries to redefine copyright law to fit each situation..

    The creator has every right to his artwork no matter what,, unless it is released to some client in writing.
     
  13. 2B

    2B Moderator

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    the forms are digital, E-mail it to them and let them fill it out and resend as the files are PDF form files no filling out by us. Not if it is a not for profit, church, farm use, etc.. all is needed is a signature. we scan the form if it is sent in physical form and it is stored in the customers digital folder as well as the physical in a file cabinet with all the other tax forms.
     
  14. signswi

    signswi Very Active Member

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    Except you're wrong on about all count there Judge. Disbarred!

    Copyrights are automatically applied to created works and do not transfer unless explicitly transferred (almost always in writing as part of a contract).

    There may in fact be MULTIPLE copyrights on something, for example a photo of a work of art owned by someone other than the artist. You have three copyrights to clear in that situation.

    Have fun everyone! Get those client signatures...
     
  15. Deaton Design

    Deaton Design Very Active Member

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    I seriously dont think that would hold up in court Gino. Can I say for sure...Nope. But, how many of us has that signed paper saying that the customer refused to buy the logo? I would say not many. So after a few years, the guy we did the work for decides he wants somebody else, he takes our logo and uses it, knowing full well he doesnt own it, and expects us just to sit back and be quiet, cause he has waited long enough, he can do what he wants to. I have several out there now that I did for customers, and if they show up on anything and I dont do the work, I can assure you they will hear from me. Verbal statements and agreements sometimes hold up in court as well as paper ones. If this guy doesnt own the logo, he doesnt have the right to use it, without consent from the designer or owner. If he can produce the evidence he does, then all is good, but I would make sure he does before doing any work.
     
  16. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Primarily, you're correct, but that's not what I was saying..... and it has nothing at all to do with being in a perfect world.

    When anyone is creating a logo, a design of sorts or just a colored rendition of some lettering with a geometric shape in a box in the corner..... it should be mentioned to the customer that the logo will remain the creator's property until said logo is paid for by said customer and then released by the creator for $XX of dollars over to the customer.

    However, in the real world as you suggested, most people are afraid to bring this part up for fear of losing the sale entirely, so they hide this little tidbit of information and claim it later....... and in some cases, much later, then hide behind some stoopid creator copyright law loophole.
    If you had a piece of paper to sign and on it is merely stated:
    On such and such date, said logo was developed and distributed to XYZ company by ABC designer for $XX amount of dollars and said customer now retains all rights to said logo..... OR..... they mark the 'Declined' box and both parties initial it.

    Without this, how does anyone know who's lying ??

    If a customer is not formally involved with the process and what will be theirs or not..... how can you retain something which you hid from your own customer ??

    You can't and this is the big flaw in this open baseless law that all artwork remains the creator's. For cripe's sake, I can write a thought down, put a date on it and claim I came up with before someone else and then claim they stole it from me.

    I for one, think this business about artistic license to own things without making claim to it is utterly absurd. Anyway, in our profession. An Artist, or song writer, more so. However, since we don't seem capable of giving out potential clients all the facts up front and lead them to believe something else is just hitting below the belt and taking advantage of others.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  17. BIG EASY DOES IT

    BIG EASY DOES IT Very Active Member

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    :goodpost:
     
  18. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    Let's see the invoice stating they purchased the logo, end of story.
     
  19. WCSign

    WCSign Member

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    So using you guys theory, does the designer who did the logo own it?

    OR

    Does the shop that employs the designer, who designed the logo own it?


    Ive never understood this with photographers... If I pay you a set amount to do a shoot for me, the damn pics are mine, for whatever I want for as long as I want.

    Now if you come out of your own pocket to attend an event or do a photoshoot and then ask me if im interested in these pics... THEN I feel like I could buy usage rights for individual pics and not give them to another company to use.

    Wedding photographers are a prime example, they charge you thousands to come take pics, then on top of that, they only allow you to buy prints from them and you never get the originals... thats BS, you get one or the other.. either I pay you and ALL the pics are mine, or I dont pay you and I purchase select pics and prints from you


    So I say again, if there is an artwork charge somewhere, anywhere, then it stands to reason that the client could believe that they paid for the logo.

    and I still agree with Gino, if a sign shop person doesn't clearly tell someone "Ok ill do this logo for $250, then other stuff for XXXX" then they are potentially being shady and trying to keep the client trapped, because they are the only ones who have the logo
     
  20. WCSign

    WCSign Member

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    and what about pricing a wrap?

    do your clients pay for the following:

    Artwork
    Install
    Printing

    of do you simply charge a psf price?


    AND if you did my logo design and are trying to pull this "didnt pay for design/art" crap with me.. well what about the truck lettering that you charged me 2 hours of artwork for... I paid for that, its mine right??? Let me have my eps file of that.. low and behold, my logo is in the artwork THAT I PAID FOR..

    LOL so I think regardless of the situation its a crappy way to act. ESPECIALLY if you didnt explicitly offer to sell them the logo, or give it to them for free
     
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